Union City becomes state’s first city to ban vapor lounges, restrict e-cigs

Union City has banned vapor lounges, and now Hayward might do the same. Vapor lounges have opened in Fremont, where there is no policy at this time. Here’s a recent story about the Tri-City area:

A growing number of East Bay cities are taking steps to restrict electronic cigarettes, and Union City has led the charge, becoming the state’s first municipality to ban vapor lounges and other businesses where e-cigarettes are used.

The City Council approved the new regulation earlier this month after a Union City Youth Commission report expressed concern that e-cigarettes might lead to an increase in nicotine addiction. The commission, comprised of 16 New Haven Unified students in grades 7 to 12, also asserted that fast-growing e-cigarette products are being marketed to minors.

“The kids wanted us to regulate them because they were being sold and packaged in less expensive ways that let kids get their hands on them,” Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci said. “We are trying to promote healthy lifestyles in Union City and the new ordinance helps with that.”

The new law, effective Jan. 9, also bans medical marijuana dispensaries in Union City.

Other cities are following suit. Earlier this month, Richmond restricted the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces, and Hayward council members are scheduled next month to consider similar regulations.

For more of the story, click here.




Happy New Year

I’ve been off for about a week for the holidays. This is my first morning back. Hope you all have had a nice holiday month.

Happy New Year to all and I hope 2014 is a great one for you.

Feel free to contact me anytime at 510-353-7011 or cdebenedetti@bayareanewsgroup.com with any questions or comments you might have.


Washington Hospital paying for CEO’s charitable giving

Story by Ashly McGlone: 

FREMONT — When charity calls, Washington Hospital CEO Nancy Farber has opened her checkbook, contributing to the hospital’s own health care foundation, donating to service clubs and college funds, and helping to fund services for chemotherapy patients and a new brain and spine imaging system.

Then Farber, one of the highest paid public officials in the state with more than $1 million in annual compensation, submitted many of her charitable expenses to her public hospital district for reimbursement, to the tune of more than $20,000 over the last three years.

A district spokesman, noting that the reimbursements are allowed under Farber’s contract, at first dismissed questions from this newspaper about the hospital’s practices as “trite.” But last week, the district shifted its stance, saying that Farber is refunding the hospital for some of those donations.

For more of the story, click here.


Social Security waives debt it said Hayward war veteran owed

HAYWARD — It’s not exactly a Christmas miracle, but a decision by government officials to waive a nearly $500 bill they’d tried to charge war veteran Thomas Testerman because of their erroneous payments brought some holiday cheer to his family.

Forgiveness from Testerman, however, might take considerably longer.

“That’s one burden that’s gone,” the former Navy petty officer said. “But it bothers me and I’m still wondering, why did I have to go through this? Why did all this have to happen?”

What happened started in 1972, when Testerman was ailing from major combat wounds suffered during the Vietnam War. While he was recovering, the government began mailing monthly disability checks that he still receives today. Social Security also sent him a couple of checks, which he cashed. But when his lawyer said he was not eligible for the Social Security payments, Testerman stopped cashing the checks, mailing them back for several months until the agency stopped sending them.

Testerman, now 61, moved on. He eventually got married, settled in Hayward and enjoyed a career in computers, making those years a distant memory.

That is, until last month, when a letter landed in his mailbox two days before Veterans Day. The first part of the government’s note informed him that he owed $493.80 — the sum contained in those few checks Social Security mistakenly sent 41 years ago.

For more of the story, please click here.





Fremont city offices closed Dec. 23 to Jan. 1

From the city of Fremont:

Non-essential city services and offices closed Dec. 23 to Jan. 1  (Police, Fire Services Not Affected)

The City of Fremont is implementing a Holiday Closure for many non-essential City Services from Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The Holiday Closure is scheduled for Dec. 23, 26, 27 and 30, 2013, while City holidays are observed on Dec. 24, 25, 31, 2013, and Jan. 1, 2014. City offices participating in the Holiday Closure will re-open for business on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. This closure will not affect police and fire services.

Offices that are taking part in the Holiday Closure include:

  • City Hall, 3300 Capitol Ave., Building A and Building B (Administrative offices)
  • Fire Administration, 3300 Capitol Ave., Building A
  • Development Services Center, 39550 Liberty St.
  • Maintenance Center, 42551 Osgood Rd.
  • All Community Centers


Offices and facilities providing limited services during the Holiday Closure include:

  • Parks and Recreation, 3300 Capitol Ave., Building B (for enrollment of recreation programs only, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (510) 494-4300 for additional information.)
  • Community Centers and Recreation buildings with Holiday Day Camps, Programs, and pre-booked facility rentals
  • Life Eldercare (clients should contact (510) 574-2090 for additional information)
  • Afghan Elderly Association (clients should contact their caseworker for additional information)


During the Holiday Closure:

  • The Fire Department and Police Department will continue to provide public safety services.
  • A minimum number of City staff will be available in an on-call status to provide emergency maintenance services such as responding to storm-related issues.
  • Animal Services will provide regular services and the Tri-City Animal Shelter, located at 1950 Stevenson Blvd., will be open Thursday,Friday, and Saturday, Dec. 26-28.
  • The Human Services Department will have two crisis counselors available at the Family Resource Center, located at 39155 Liberty St.
  • The Parks and Recreation Department will offer camps and other programs.
  • Community members with active building permits can call (510) 494-4885 for inspections on Dec. 23, 26, 27, and 30, 2013.
  • The Fremont Tennis Center will be open for public play, weather permitting. Some holiday public hours; call (510) 790-5510 for tennis-related information.

Historically, demand for many City services during the December and January holiday season is low. It is anticipated that the Holiday Closure will have little or no impact on service delivery efficiency.

For more information, visit www.Fremont.gov/HolidayClosure or call (510) 284-4093.



ICYMI: Fremont approves latest plan for long-empty Centerville site

FREMONT — If it’s possible for an urban planning site to be cursed, a 6.6-acre Centerville district parcel haunted by several past failed proposals certainly fits the bill.

Now, those demons might be exorcised at the long-empty property on Fremont Boulevard, where the City Council has approved plans to build 185 apartments and 28,000 square feet of retail.

“We think it’s a great project that would revitalize Centerville,” said Cliff Nguyen, a city senior planner.

BHV CenterStreet Properties, a Dublin-based development team controlling the land, is calling its proposal, “Artist Walk.”

For more, click here.


Tri-City Volunteers appealing to public for donations, volunteers this holiday season

If you’re looking to give back during the holidays, the Fremont-based Tri-City Volunteers might be a good spot to do so. The nonprofit organization can be contacted at 510-793-4583 or email Sara: sgovea@tri-cityvolunteers.org. Here’s more from TCV:

Making Hunger History: Holiday food appeal for the elderly and vulnerable in the Tri-Cities

Once again, an annual appeal has been launched by Tri-City Volunteers food bank to collect food and financial donations to support vulnerable and elderly people living in the area.

The project has already helped to distribute 4,130 Thanksgiving packages, including 1,000 turkeys. Another 4,000 packages will also be needed for Christmas, organizers said.

Anyone interested in setting up a collection point at their work, school or church to receive non-perishable food items is encouraged to contact Tri-City Volunteers on 510-793-4583 or email Sara: sgovea@tri-cityvolunteers.org.

Executive Director Melissa Ponchard said: “Food hampers are appreciated by struggling parents who put food on the table, as well as by the increasing number of elderly people relying on our services and finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet at this time of year.”

Why set up an escape from hunger appeal

With government cuts to food stamps and the prospect of another grim economic Holiday forecast, young families as well as older and other vulnerable people are at risk emotionally as well as nutritionally. We have 16,000 people struggling with poverty in our area. One quarter of our food bank recipients are children, with seniors (a great many of whom live alone) making up another quarter.

Even here in California where temperatures are relatively mild, the cold weather exacerbates coronary and respiratory illnesses, especially among older people. For every winter-related death there are dozens of people suffering illness and hardship. Making a choice between eating and heating is commonplace. But it is a choice which may also lead to life of increased isolation and depression. Tri-City Volunteers food bank protects against such outcomes.

Where your donations go

Your response to the Making Hunger History appeal through the overwhelming generosity of local supporters will hopefully mean that Tri-City Volunteers can make it through its 43rd year helping thousands of people access enough food.

All the money Tri-City Volunteers raises is used for the direct benefit of the older people and vulnerable families who suffer because of poverty. Your donations support those most in need of help, allowing us to make sure people stay warm, eat well and remain positive.

Every single dollar donated to Tri-City Volunteers reaches someone experiencing hunger. Last year, only 3% of our budget was spent on administrative and fundraising expenses. That means 97% of our budget was spent on direct program costs; spent on feeding those who need help most.


Public meeting slated Dec. 17 for Warm Springs BART extension and Sabercat Creek Riparian Restoration Project

FYI … this is scheduled next Tuesday, Dec. 17:

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), the City of Fremont and the Alameda County Resource Conservation District (ACRCD) invite you to attend a public meeting to discuss:

BART’s proposed Sabercat Creek Riparian Restoration Project, phase II planting plan near Bacado Place.

Date: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Place: Olive Hyde Program Center, 123 Washington Blvd., Fremont CA

For more information call 510-476-3900 or emailbartwarmspringsextension@bart.gov


‘Save Connolly Shopping Center’ movement is gaining steam

As some here mentioned recently, the grassroots group called “Shape Our Fremont” is working to save the Connolly Shopping Center, which the city is considering rezoning from commercial to residential uses. The 3.7-acre site is at 40744 Fremont Blvd. and 40733 Chapel Way in the Irvington district.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the item at the Dec. 17 meeting. Stay tuned.